What can Ravens expect next week vs. Cincinnati?
Before Sunday, the Patriots had given up at least 24 points in six consecutive games. Then they played the Ravens, who managed just seven points.
It was a dreadful performance that magnified many of the offensive woes that have plagued the Ravens all season. No wide receivers made a catch in the first half. Ray Rice had just 40 yards rushing, and he was the leading rusher. Joe Flacco threw two interceptions. There was plenty of blame to go around. It’s not just one area of the offense that is problematic. It is many areas, such as:
@ The offensive line
This has not been a good run-blocking unit all season. Rice hasn’t been 100 percent, and that has been part of the problem. But if the issue was just Rice, Bernard Pierce would be having more success. There simply is not enough space created for running backs on a consistent basis.
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@ The wide receivers
Torrey Smith (1,101 yards) has put together his best season, but he only has four touchdowns, and just one touchdown in the last five games. No other Ravens wide receiver has reached 500 yards for the season. There were times Sunday when Joe Flacco had plenty of time to throw, but no open receiver to throw to. Take Smith away, and the Ravens’ receiving corps can be shut down.
@ The play calling
The spark that offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell was able to bring the offense when he took over late last season has not carried over into this season. For the Ravens to have just one touchdown over the last eight quarters is inexcusable.
@ The quarterback
Flacco has been asked to carry more this season, but he has made more mistakes. He did not see some receivers who were open Sunday. He made some inaccurate throws. When you are the franchise quarterback who signed a six-year, $120.6 million contract during the offseason, you are expected to play more consistently than Flacco has this season.
All of this leaves the Ravens where they are now, needing a win in Cincinnati, plus either a Dolphins or Chargers loss to make the playoffs. The offense has been shaky all season. On Sunday, the Ravens’ inept offense cost them dearly.